Coming into the season, the Green Bay Packers knew they had a deep secondary. Injuries to Damarious Randall and Sam Shields, put that to the test against the New York Giants.
And thank to the play of LaDarius Gunter, the secondary passed the test.
New York not only has a solid quarterback in Eli Manning. The Giants also have Odell Beckham Jr., one of the most explosive wide outs in the NFL.
Many teams don’t have the depth to handle one of the best receivers around, down their top two corners. Yet, the Packers aren’t most teams and Gunter, isn’t your average backup corner.
Yet, after the way he shut down OBJ, Gunter may not be a backup much longer.
With Shields and Randall out of the lineup, Gunter and fellow second-year cover guy Quinten Rollins both started against the Giants.
Truthfully, both players acquitted themselves well, Gunter was just better.
For the game, the rookie free agent from Miami, played 56 snaps. He covered OBJ on 27 of those plays and during that time, allowed zero receptions. 19 times, according to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, he played press coverage.
At 6-1, 200 pounds, Gunter is the Packers’ biggest corner. He’s physical at the line of scrimmage, but he can run too. It’s puzzling that he went undrafted in 2015, but from day one in Green Bay, he looked like a player.
Last season, he played mostly on special teams. Yet, due to injury, he has started three games so far in 2016 and could start even more if he keeps playing this way.
Currently, the health of Shields is uncertain. Randall has struggled, but still figures to be in the mix, as will Rollins. The point is not that snaps need to be taken away from those guys, it’s just with Gunter playing as well as he is, how do you keep him off the field?
Either way, Gunter’s development is a boon for Green Bay. Suddenly, the Packers have three, talented second-year corners. All can run and Gunter gives the Packers the ability to matchup with bigger, more physical receivers.
So even if, Shields ends up having to step away from the game for health reasons, Green Bay should be alright.
Gunter, who has 11 tackles, one forced fumble and one pass defensed this season, may not overtake anyone on the depth chart just yet, but he’s gaining ground and proving that when needed, he’s up to the challenge.